29: Two Jokers Plus One

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): September-October, 2004

Who Was There: Bruce (Matt), Yukio (Bob)

What It Was

Yukio, Bruce, and Cassandra arrive in Cairo for a month of study--and in unexpected encounter with the Comte de Saint-Germain.

The Full Horror

As soon as they arrive in Cairo, Yukio calls Katsoulakis, who assures him that the favor he needs is "the merest trifle." All he need do is go to a tapestry shop in a part of 'medieval' Cairo known as the Bazaar of Khan El-Khalili. Once there, Yukio will be given a package to pass on to Katsoulakis when Yukio returns to New York. Or, if Yukio plans to continue traveling, he need only see it safely to Katsoulakis' estate on Plomari. When Yukio asks if someone might try to steal the package, Katsoulakis replies, "Many people want it. But considering who is giving it and who receiving it, you will have no trouble."

At the Cairo Hilton, in the European ward of Ezbekiya, Yukio pays for a suite, with separate bedrooms for himself, Bruce, and Cassandra. Each morning, before they leave the hotel, Cassandra sits on their communal balcony and communes with Brigit. For this she gains the gift of unobtrusiveness, which allows her to pass unnoticed through the city of Cairo.

They spend their first day touring major sites, then devote a second day to the city's museums. Yukio and Cassandra are looking for exhibits and artifacts to study over the next few weeks, but Bruce is more interested in casing their treasures. In fact, Bruce spends the following month running scams in the oldest neighborhoods of the city.

Yukio's research centers on Egyptian occult lore and whatever he can find about the serpent people. But his ultimate goal is to learn more about the Comte de Saint-Germain in the hope of meeting him some day. When Yukio tells Bruce and Cassandra about the Aces' meeting with the Comte in Ishpeming, Michigan, Bruce wonders why the Comte empowered George with a spell of dismissal, rather than use it against the Dark Young himself. Was his meeting with the Aces part of a plan to win them over, to make them foot soldiers on behalf of his agenda, rather than Katsoulakis'?

The Pyramid

After two weeks, the three are ready to take a tour of the Great Pyramid. The following night, Bruce and Yukio return and sneak into the King's Chamber. Yukio takes several photographs of the hieroglyphics there, paying special attention to any mention of Khem or Osiris. He is struck by the fact that the background in the painting of Napoleon which the Aces found in Winfield Hall is a perfect reproduction of the actual King's Chamber. The files in his laptop do not allow him to translate everything he sees, but he does notice that one of the phrases captured in the painting is, "the first and last man."

When midnight arrives, there is a surge of Essence in the Chamber, and Yukio takes advantage of it by Death Projecting himself down to the tombs. There he finds a gateway to Khem, guarded by a riddle and the mummified remains of several old kings. He also looks around for mystical artifacts, and finds several of them sealed away in an untouched chamber. He makes a note to return to the tombs some day to collect them.

Bruce and Yukio return to the hotel. Cassandra shows up an hour later with a cheerful young stud whom she boots out again around 4am. The next morning, Cassandra tells Yukio and Bruce that the desert is so susceptible to invocation magic, she has to be careful using new or powerful spells. Bruce wonders why they are not seeing more Gifted people. Yukio tells him they are probably Shielding themselves, which makes Bruce decide to learn how to do that.

Later that morning, the three travelers discover they are being watched from a distance by hooded men. Yukio recognizes them as members of the Sons of Imhotep. Bruce argues that they pose more of a metaphysical than a physical threat, and recommends the three of them avoid confronting the Sons unless they attack. When Yukio looks at them with Death Sight, he discovers they are Gifted humans trained to be ruthless killers, and that leads him to agree with Bruce. Yukio also notices that something is wrong about the Sons' faces, but he cannot tell what that is.

Six weeks have passed since they arrived in Cairo, and the Sons' surveillance continues. The three decide it's time to get Katsoulakis' package and leave. Yukio wishes they could learn who the Sons are working for, but he leaves that problem for another time. The next morning, they strengthen their mystical defenses, and then leave the hotel for the bazaar. Yukio buys several pieces of schlock on the way, in order to make it more difficult for a thief to figure out which item belongs to Katsoulakis.

The tapestry shop is small and disturbing. Yukio buys a tapestry from the clerk, who looks at them with a silent, baleful expression. When the gruff owner finds out why they are there, he tells them in broken English that the package is not in the shop. They should go across the street and take a table at the street-side cafe while he contacts the one who has it. The owner reads these instructions from a piece of paper, which Yukio burns after they have heard the message.

As they wait for the package-bearer to arrive, they speculate whether Yukio's tapestry, combined with Essence and Negaphysics, could be used as a flying carpet.


They are stunned when the package is delivered by Saint-Germain himself dressed in off-whites and a khaffiyeh, with a bright multicolored handkerchief in the pocket of his suit. He introduces himself with an extravagant bow and a loud, "Gentlemen!"

Saint-Germain seems inclined to dismiss the Aces, whom he believes will no longer play any part in the Great Game. He suspects they never realized just how great their 'victories' were against Ben Nevis and 'that bishop.' And yet, says Saint-Germain, "The tide might have turned more quickly had they remained, but change itself is inevitable."

The Comte takes a special interest in Bruce, just as he had Jonathan. But Bruce, being a Mocker, can handle this scrutiny, and earns a measure of respect from Saint-Germain.

The Comte asks Yukio what his ambitions are. Yukio says he wants to be a part of this century's 1913. Not to encourage it, but to prevent it. He pursuing multiple paths so he won't be shot down before reaching his goal.

Saint-Germain knew about Woolworth, but considered him an absurd old fraud. He did not know how Woolworth's spirit finally met his end, so he's amused to listen to Yukio's account of what the Aces told him about their dream-journey to Khem. Yukio then mentions Anne Salters, and his concern that she will come after him, on her way to dealing with the Aces.

When Yukio asks the Comte if he has information that might keep her at bay. Saint-Germain finds this amusing as well. Salters, the Comte says, enjoys taking her time. "Not very amusing is our Ms. Salters. Should she make a move against you, you will see it long before the blow lands." The only question will be if Yukio will have any hope of getting out of its way. As for the Aces, her best option--were she more amusing--would be to make their pub in Scotland suddenly disappear one day. But if such grim amusement is not her style, Saint-Germain notes, she has a knack for originality, nonetheless.

Hoping to learn something about Saint-Germain's powers, Yukio asks him if there is a way to take back something that has been done. (In game terms: is the Comte immortal? Or a master of time? Or does he have Mindheal at Level 10?) But the Comte dodges the question, saying he does not know how such a thing could be done.

Bruce asks if Saint-Germain is concerned about the increasing threat of the Mad Gods, and that leads to the following exchange:

Back to New York

Yukio delivers the package to Katsoulakis alone. He wants Bruce to stay beneath Katsoulakis' radar for as long as possible, especially given his new connection to Saint-Germain. Nor does he want Katsoulakis to realize Yukio and Bruce are now a team. So Yukio keeps the delivery short and professional, and he avoids making an amusing comment about the Comte. Yukio also doesn't want Bruce to stay in the Renny, even though Saint-Germain would probably be delighted if Bruce did.

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